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President hails ‘inspirational’ O’Donovan brothers after rowing gold

Ireland’s golden boys Gary, right, and Paul O’Donovan (Mike Egerton/PA) Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Ireland’s president has hailed the rowing O’Donovan brothers as inspirational after their world championship victory in Bulgaria.

Gary and Paul O’Donovan won gold in the men’s lightweight double sculls in the World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv on Saturday morning.

The brothers, from Skibbereen, Co Cork, shot to prominence in 2016 when they won silver at the Olympics, securing a place in the nation’s heart with their straight talking attitude and comic one-liners.

Gary, left, and Paul O’Donovan won gold with a fantastic row at the World Championships in Bulgaria Credit: Matt Crossick/PA

President Michael D Higgins said: “It is a pleasure to once again send my congratulations to Gary and Paul O’Donovan on winning a rowing medal.

“They continue to inspire us, not only with this win at the World Rowing Championships but also with their mental and physical strength.”

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Sports Minister Shane Ross congratulated all the Irish rowers taking part in the championships in Bulgaria. But he reserved special praise for the golden boys from Skibbereen.

“In every way possible they demonstrate what is inspirational about sport and sportsmanship,” he said.

The brothers’ victory defied expectations after they only just managed to secure a spot in the final, squeezing through as third place finishers in their semi-final.